Gritty derby win just the tonic for Moyes
It has been a tough start to the new campaign for West Ham manager David Moyes, despite the Scot having guided the Hammers to Europa Conference League glory back in May.
That European triumph appeared to guarantee Moyes another season at the London Stadium, only for reports to then surface of a rift between him and the club’s new technical director Tim Steidten.
Moyes has also had to deal with the consequences of West Ham selling their captain and best player to Arsenal this summer, while Lucas Paqueta recently appeared all set to join Premier League champions Man City, until an FA and FIFA betting investigation put that move on hold.
And with the Hammers failing to hold on to a lead to only draw late on at Bournemouth on the opening Saturday of the new season, the pressure was really beginning to mount on Moyes heading into a tough-looking clash with big-spending Chelsea on Super Sunday.
There is nothing better, though, than the tonic of a London derby win over fierce rivals to wipe away any doubts about the manager, who was also able to hand an eye-catching debut to James Ward-Prowse, while fellow new boy Edson Alvarez was also given a first Hammers start as a second-half substitute at a feel-good London Stadium.
What a difference a victory, especially against old foes Chelsea, does then to boost a team’s spirits, with everything now rosy in the West Ham garden, in stark contrast to their beaten opponents today.
Sterling on the rise
“Raheem Sterling has been the best player on the pitch,” beamed Jamie Carragher during the first half of Chelsea’s eventual 3-1 defeat at West Ham.
He was right, this was Sterling back to his sparky best, especially on the ball where he tormented Emerson for large parts with his scintillating change of pace that is as sharp as ever. Tomas Soucek couldn’t handle him either just before half-time when fouling him just inside the box, meaning no player has now won more penalties in the Premier League than Sterling (24). Unfortunately for Chelsea’s sake, Enzo Fernandez’s penalty save was the momentum swinging moment in the game. Sterling’s hold on the game diminished after the break.
No player has managed more touches in the opposition box (15) during a game this season than Sterling produced, so it was therefore quite disappointing that the England man didn’t register a goal involvement. That was the only thing missing from a performance that will have excited Mauricio Pochettino. He looks to have the real Raheem Sterling back.
New season, same old Everton
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Everton’s situation is, in many ways, worse. They have started the last three seasons with as many different managers, but find themselves facing the same familiar problems.
A first summer for Sean Dyche to get his feet under the desk was meant to bring about some of his fabled defensive stability. Michael Keane and Ashley Young, among others, didn’t get the memo at Villa Park in Everton’s biggest defeat of the manager’s reign.
A toothless attack is just as debilitating and cost them dearly in last weekend’s otherwise solid performance against Fulham. That does, however, owe as much to a lack of goalscoring personnel – an issue which shows little sign of abating any time soon, especially with Dominic Calvert-Lewin forced off yet again at Villa Park.
Dyche knows the Toffees’ problems run deeper than any manager. “The learning I’ve had from the last couple of seasons is that we can be good one week, miles off it the next week,” he told Sky Sports.
The problem for Everton is that here is a manager who has turned unfancied teams into competent Premier League sides, watching his side drop bottom of the top flight for the first time in 13 years.
Yes it’s early days, Everton are still in the market for incomings and things could yet get better. But the signs so far are concerning, and the fact a number of Toffees fans stayed until the final whistle in the West Midlands to boo their side off shows exactly how worried they are too.
Villa deliver perfect bounce back from Newcastle defeat
Following last weekend’s thumping at Newcastle, Aston Villa needed a response – and they delivered an emphatic one against Everton.
Four goals from four different scorers, 13 shots at goal and 60 per cent possession; this was a dominant performance from Unai Emery’s side which lived up to their pre-season hype.
Summer signing Moussa Diaby impressed once again and, although he did not score, the forward was always a threat having the most shots (3) and most shots on target (2) of any Villa player.
Diaby connected particularly well with goal scorer Leon Bailey, as the Frenchman linked up with him more than any other Villa team-mate with eight passes, as the pair rekindled their Bayer Leverkusen past.
But neither Diaby nor Bailey could outshine skipper John McGinn, who opened the scoring in a player-of-the-match performance. It was a real captain’s display from the Scot as he drove Villa forward both on and off the ball to help put last Saturday’s hammering well and truly behind them.
Villa Park has also become a fortress under Emery with the Spaniard able to rely on their home form to ensure bounce backs from away losses. Villa have now won eight consecutive home Premier League games, their longest home league winning run since February 1990. The Villains have shipped just two goals in those eight victories, and none from open play.
Emery will now be hoping this thrashing of Everton can kick-start their season as they embark on their first European campaign in 13 years on Wednesday with a Europa Conference League qualifier against Hibernian.
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